Why I Love To Be Rubbished

When the boss of one of the biggest communications groups in the world rubbished me and my reputation for a full 10 minutes, why was my reaction one of delight and high fives? Here’s the answer.

A former colleague had a meeting with the boss of one of the world’s biggest marketing communications groups. Let’s call him ‘The Boss’, with apologies to Bruce. A mutual associate beamed down the phone: “Our friend told me The Boss spent 10 minutes of their meeting rubbishing YOU.”

I was bemused. I’d never even met The Boss. I was far down the pecking order when our worlds were vaguely associated. How and why on earth had he even heard of me? Then I remembered what I had done to give him the absolute shits. You see, as I have got older, I have become obsessed with boldness – in saying what I really think and feel, and doing what I believe is the right best thing to do, irrespective of the consequences. Here’s the price I pay:

The bolder the action, the more polarising the reaction.

Thanks to Josh Strawcznski who reminded me of that truth at breakfast last week. As creative leader Rob told me over a coffee in Cannes: “Don’t be liked. Be loved. Or loathed. But ‘liked’ is a certain path to oblivion.”

I remembered what I had done years prior to get on The Boss’s ‘naughty boy who deserves a slap’ black list. It was a bold proposed move that disrupted and broke ‘rules.’ It apparently drove The Boss up the wall. No doubt my name was bandied around as the architect of such impertinence. Fair enough- I was! But he wasn’t my boss – and never will be – so I didn’t care in the slightest.

I was reminded of this price of boldness when I gave a speech last week to close the brilliant CommsCon PR industry conference in Sydney (PR types- book now for the PRIA conference in Perth in November by the way).

I told the truth about my view of the future of the PR industry, saying at least half of the 400 or so Sydney PR agencies registered on the Yellow Pages site will be losing money or have closed by 2020.  A bold prediction. A wake-up call to embrace change. The response? A comment from of course an unnamed source responding to an article on my speech, along the lines of: “Chris is a snake oil salesman and his words have no credibility.” Wow. How does he know me so well?!!

Here’s my point. Remember one of the key values of Calvin Klein. “Dance With Controversy.” Be prepared to be bold- to do and say brave things that are the right things to do and say. Speak with candour- truth without malice. Make a difference. Stir it up a bit. Grab attention. Move that frickin dial.

And be prepared for the polarised reaction.

Be prepared for the ‘loathing’, and the gloating when you get rubbished. Or the shamefulness of comment when they don’t even have the guts to put their name to it. The feedback will hurt. But it is more than adequately compensated by all the positive reaction you get- and also the power of looking yourself in the mirror and saying to yourself: “Well done- I am proud of you.”

The older you get, the more you realise it’s okay not to be liked by everyone. And it’s critical we don’t waste time and energy sitting in the path to oblivion – to fence-sit and sprout platitudes that keep the keel even.

Be bold. Be brave. Dance with controversy. Push it. Do and say what needs to be said to make a positive difference. And try not to let the turkeys get you down.

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45 Responses to Why I Love To Be Rubbished

  1. Jayne Albiston March 29, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

    So awesome Chris! Needed to hear this. One day we will meet!

    • Chris Savage March 29, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

      Thanks Jayne!!!

  2. Catherine March 30, 2016 at 10:07 am #

    Thanks Chris. I enjoyed the reminder of being bold. Being brave.

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

      Thanks Catherine

  3. Nick Ryder March 30, 2016 at 10:09 am #

    Excellent post – keep it up Chris

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

      Thanks Nick

  4. Craig Badings March 30, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    I agree Chris. Stand for something but also, and first and foremost, be true to yourself.

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:37 pm #

      Big hug, Craig.

  5. Leea March 30, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    Wow!! Thank you

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:37 pm #

      Pleasure, Leea!

  6. Donald March 30, 2016 at 10:30 am #

    An agent of change is needed in our industry Chris and you have set a fire under a lot of people who do not want to understand the radical changes we are all facing.

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:38 pm #

      Thanks Donald. Very much appreciated, coming from an industry leader like you, and someone at the forefront of education. Chris

  7. Cliff March 30, 2016 at 11:10 am #

    I read the transcript of your speech and the comments in reaction to it – don’t you find it interesting that when people feel the need to deride others that the effect is often the opposite for those reading their derogatory remarks? It usually says much more about the person making the negative comments than it does about the person they are commenting on.
    I do have the benefit however of knowing you personally from many years ago when you were my Boss. What I can say is that I have rarely met someone with such drive and integrity in any company I’ve worked for and that you are one of the major inspirations for me starting my own business and having the nerve to go it alone.

    Well done Chris – I for one know the difference between constructive criticism and spiteful jealousy – I’m sure everyone else does too. At least, those who matter anyway.



    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:38 pm #

      Thank you Cliff. Appreciated!!

  8. Craig March 30, 2016 at 11:12 am #

    We used to rubbish you all the time at Uni, Chris – and it made you the success you are – and we are very proud of you! True words though – noone gets ahead by hiding their light.

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

      Love you Craig!

  9. Jenet Depke March 30, 2016 at 11:55 am #

    Hi Chris

    Thanks and gratitude for sharing your insightful wisdom and teachings for the world at large to learn from.

    We are all so blessed to learn from one of the world’s most highly respected and successful world class leaders, most people look up to, admire and highly respect. Confirmation of your brilliant teachings is that it’s not a coincidence that hundreds of people choose to pay hapily/joyfully, to attend your events anywhere on the globe, and then are so re invigorated and further inspired as a result like I was recently after your recent RCSA event in Melbourne.To be forearmed is empowering. Especially, learning from a visionery who is bold and courageous like you are. Keep going with your boldness, it’s an inspiration to learn from the best of the best during these harsh economic times. And it’s always enlightening and exilarating to read you newsletters. Faceless cowards have no place on planet earth.

    All my close colleagues and friends in our industry who have attended your events continue to sing your praises like I do.

    Our lives and journey is forever enriched by your presence and vision/advices.

    I look forward to seeing you again soon.

    Warmest Wishes


    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

      Thank you Jenet. Appreciated as always!

  10. Tony March 30, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

    Well said Chris. The process of obvious need for change is often a slow one. 6 months after leaving a global organisation where I had been going against the grain for change, the new global COO contacted me and thanked me for the all the unpopular discussion I had created. He mentioned I was often referred to as an “irritant for change”. He said my HR file was an interesting read and he proposed implementing changes that I had recommended. 3 years later he left the company and shared with me his wins. Often it is the followers who bring about change rather than the initiators of change. It taught me a valuable lesson that empowering others to embrace and bring about change is the catalyst for change.

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

      Brilliant story, Tony. Well done!!!!!!

  11. Chris Gray March 30, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

    Spot on Chris. I agree with the bold statements you made re the industry and its likely future. It’s good to have a point of view. Too many people are afraid to say what needs to be said. Go hard or go home, as they say!

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

      Thank you, Chris. Appreciated.

  12. Eda March 30, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

    Yes! My boldness got me fired once again but then again why would I want to work with anyone who considers sales the original sin! Another chapter for Job and the City. Just shake it off and continue being the guy who brings the energy back to the conferences!

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

      Thanks Eda!

  13. Andy Price March 30, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

    Good one Chris, ultimately it is how things are made better…someone has to put their head up and speak out. PS Where do I get a bottle of your ‘Savage Snake Oil’?

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

      Thanks Andy. Try IGA for that Savage snake oil!

  14. Taryn Williams March 30, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

    Thank you Chris – this really really resonated with me… Thank you for sharing

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

      Thanks Taryn. Keep shaking up your industry!

  15. C March 30, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    Thanks for this post Chris, it is so timely. It’s always nice to confirm that there are plenty of people out there that will always speak up for doing the right thing, being bold and not being afraid to go against the office politics of the day. At a time when I’m feeling frustrated with it all I really needed this encouragement to keep fighting the good fight.

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

      Thanks C!!

  16. Rob Irving March 30, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

    Telling it like it is, Chris! Bold and being rubbished ain’t always comfortable. As, Rich, The Brand Guy, once said to me: ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

      Thanks Rob! Love that Brand Guy! Chris

  17. Joshua Strawczynski March 30, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

    My belief is that the education system of today and the Politically Correct world we live in has wrapped us all in bubble wrap, afraid we might fall and graze our knee. As a result, we fear being the outlier, being different. Being direct not only saves time, but helps us communicate our message more effectively.

    The city of Melbourne did some interesting research into communication effectiveness. They concluded that all emails should remove pleasantries (or at least put them last in the email). Simply ask what you want and move on, thus saving time, money & actually getting the job done.

    Thanks for the mention. The second I met Chris, I thought ‘this guy gets me’, I need to get to know him. I guess that’s the second lesson, trust your instincts.

    Cheers pal.

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

      Josh- you’re the man. Thanks! Chris

  18. Luke March 30, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

    Chris, everything is changing that rapidly that all industries are in need to think and act different. Well done on standing for something

    • Chris Savage March 31, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

      Thanks Luke

  19. Carolyn Hyams March 30, 2016 at 9:12 pm #

    It’s a cowardly, jealous person who doesn’t put their name to nasty comments and you’re spot on — It just shows them up for what they really are.

    Thanks always for the inspiration Chris. I can count hundreds that I know have been inspired by you.

    • Chris Savage March 31, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

      Thanks Carolyn!!

  20. Glenn April 1, 2016 at 2:53 am #

    I’ve found as I’ve gotten older that the faults I find in others are usually shortcomings that I own. And versa visa. What others find faulty about me are usually their own issues. Enjoy you taking the time to share your experiences, reflections and life lessons Chris. Glenn

    • Chris Savage April 4, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

      Thanks Glenn!

  21. Alex Walker April 4, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    Mate you are a Rock God and one of the best presenters of ideas I have been fortunate to watch in action. Be bold (or as Bruce says it … bald) or get out I reckon.

    • Chris Savage April 4, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

      Thanks Alex- appreciated. Chris

  22. Sandra Renowden April 7, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

    Oh god Chris, if only I had read this post last night, I perhaps wouldn’t have had a sleepless night worrying about what someone said about me after I spoke my mind. Ho hum!

    • Chris Savage April 11, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

      Never too late to get the message, Sandra!!! Chris

  23. Caroline Shawyer July 25, 2017 at 4:28 pm #

    This really really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing Chris

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